New Solutions Network aims to strengthen stakeholder cooperation on water and energy infrastructure as a climate mitigator

With 90 per cent of global electricity generation requiring intense water output, and the water sector requiring energy to distribute, purify and recycle water, the need for more sustainably managed natural resources has never been more urgent.

To mobilize and scale up multi-stakeholder action towards this goal, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) and Itaipu Binacional launched the Sustainable Water and Energy Solutions Network on 4 December at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP24) in Katowice, Poland.

The network will work towards the sustainable use and management of water and energy resources so that more people have access to safe drinking water and clean energy, while also making the water and energy industries themselves more carbon neutral. Stakeholders from all regions are invited to join the network.

Speaking at the launch event in the Brazil Space at COP24, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Liu Zhenmin said this integrated, multi‑stakeholder approach to water and energy is critical to achieve the SDGs and combat climate change.

“It’s no coincidence that the same people who lack access to improved water and sanitation are also likely to lack access to electricity,” Liu said, noting that adopting a truly integrated approach to better managing these natural resources requires a different set of skills and knowledge.

“The global network on Sustainable Energy and Water Solutions aims to help bridge that gap,” he said.

Partners within the Solutions Network will leverage their skills, share best practices and quality data on water-energy interlinkages, and strengthen capacity-building with a focus on the planning, designing, implementing and monitoring policies and business models that effectively address current shortcomings.

The network’s founding partner Itaipu Binacional, a public-private hydropower plant spanning both Brazil and Paraguay, is already on board.

“By working together and sharing our best practices, we are taking our programmes and projects beyond our borders,” said Monica Perez dos Santos, Financial Director of Itaipu-Paraguay.

Sustainable energy practices are good for business, too. The network is meant to attract businesses and show that sustainable natural resource management is a win‑win for companies and the environment.

“Water is the raw material for energy generation at Itaipu, and its proper management is essential for the company to maintain itself as a reliable provider of abundant electricity for both the Brazilian and the Paraguayan markets in the long term,” said Mário Antônio Cecato, Financial Director of Itaipu-Brasil.

Furthermore, DESA’s Division for Sustainable Development Goals and Itaipu hosted a side event on Wednesday, 5 December that showcased the Solutions Network. Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, urged full cooperation of the water and energy communities in working on innovative ways to improve their sectors from start to finish.

“When we’re talking about water/energy infrastructure, we need not just the end product to be carbon neutral—the entire supply chain must be green,” Espinosa said, noting that she is pleased that the Solutions Network provides a concrete way for multiple stakeholders to reduce their carbon output for the benefit of the climate and the 2030 Agenda.

At the side event, the Government of Spain announced that it would join the Solutions Network, which it sees as a way to scale up its work in Latin America.

“Spain is really committed to this initiative and is ready to support this partnership and its network in promoting and disseminating water and energy sustainable and implementable solutions,” said Teresa Solana Méndez de Vigo, Coordinator of the International Division, Office of Climate Change, Ministry of Ecological Transistion, Spain.

The International Hydropower Association and World Energy Council have also joined the Solutions Network.

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